Copy
The pain felt in Alberta’s labour market over the last couple of years has driven thousands of workers to unemployment. Yet recession or no recession, Albertans continue to be engaged in the workforce at a much higher rate than those in the rest of Canada.
Want to share this Owl?
The Owl header
ATB Financial's Economics & Research Team March 22, 2017
Labour participation rate unaffected by recession
The pain felt in Alberta’s labour market over the last couple of years has driven thousands of workers to unemployment. Yet recession or no recession, Albertans continue to be engaged in the workforce at a much higher rate than those in the rest of Canada.
 
Each month as part of the Labour Force Survey, Statistics Canada reports the participation rate—that is, the percentage of people over the age of 15 that are either working or looking for work. The graph below shows the participation rate for Alberta and Canada over the last 40 years. Consistently, Alberta’s rate has been a good 10 percentage points higher than the national average. Some of this is due to demographics. Alberta has the youngest average age among the provinces, and proportionately the fewest retirees.
 
But much of it is also due to economic conditions. Leading up to the recession in 2015, Alberta enjoyed a high rate of net interprovincial in-migration. The strong labour market in the 2010-2014 period attracted thousands of job seekers, almost all of whom would have been young people looking to start lucrative careers.
 
When the recession hit in 2015, many of those jobs disappeared. Yet even as Alberta’s unemployment rate soared from four to nine per cent, out-migration remained relatively low. (NOTE: watch for The Owl tomorrow when the latest interprovincial migration data are released.) Because few working age Albertans have left the province, our participation rate has remained stable between 71 and 73 per cent.
Share this Owl: